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What is Voice, Speech and Language
|The functions, skills, and abilities of voice, speech, and
language are related. Some dictionaries and textbooks use the terms almost
interchangeably. But for scientists and medical professionals, it is
important to distinguish among them.
Voice (or vocalization) is the sound produced by humans and other vertebrates using the lungs and the vocal folds in the larynx, or voice box. Voice is not always produced as speech, however. Infants babble and coo; animals bark, moo, whinny, growl, and meow; and adult humans laugh, sing, and cry. Voice is generated by airflow from the lungs as the vocal folds are brought close together. When air is pushed past the vocal folds with sufficient pressure, the vocal folds vibrate. If the vocal folds in the larynx did not vibrate normally, speech could only be produced as a whisper. Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint. It helps define your personality, mood, and health.
Approximately 7.5 million people in the United States have trouble using their voices. Disorders of the voice involve problems with pitch, loudness, and quality. Pitch is the highness or lowness of a sound based on the frequency of the sound waves.
Loudness is the perceived volume (or amplitude) of the sound, while quality
refers to the character or distinctive attributes of a sound. Many people
who have normal speaking skills have great difficulty communicating when
their vocal apparatus fails. This can occur if the nerves controlling the
larynx are impaired because of an accident, a surgical procedure, a viral
infection, or cancer.
|Humans express thoughts, feelings, and ideas orally to one another through a
series of complex movements that alter and mold the basic tone created by
voice into specific, decodable sounds. Speech is produced by precisely
coordinated muscle actions in the head, neck, chest, and abdomen. Speech
development is a gradual process that requires years of practice. During
this process, a child learns how to regulate these muscles to produce
However, by the first grade, roughly 5 percent of children have noticeable speech disorders; the majority of these speech disorders have no known cause. One category of speech disorder is fluency disorder, or stuttering, which is characterized by a disruption in the flow of speech. It includes repetitions of speech sounds, hesitations before and during speaking, and the prolonged emphasis of speech sounds. More than 15 million individuals in the world stutter, most of whom began stuttering at a very early age. The majority of speech sound disorders in the preschool years occur in children who are developing normally in all other areas. Speech disorders also may occur in children who have developmental disabilities.
Language is the expression of human communication through which knowledge,
belief, and behavior can be experienced, explained, and shared. This sharing
is based on systematic, conventionally used signs, sounds, gestures, or
marks that convey understood meanings within a group or community. Recent
research identifies "windows of opportunity" for acquiring
language--written, spoken, or signed--that exist within the first few years
ASL shares an
underlying organization with spoken language and has its own syntax and
grammar. Many adults acquire disorders of language because of stroke, head
injury, dementia, or brain tumors. Language disorders also are found in
adults who have failed to develop normal language skills because of mental
retardation, autism, hearing impairment, or other congenital or acquired
disorders of brain development.
Specific Speech and Communications Conditions
Speech and Communication Disorders Resources
|MEDLINE® (Medical Literature, Analysis, and Retrieval System Online) is the
U.S. National Library of Medicine's (NLM's) premier bibliographic database
that contains over 12 million references to journal articles in life
sciences with a concentration on biomedicine. It can be searched via PubMed®
or the NLM Gateway at www.nlm.nih.gov.
How to perform a MEDLINE/PubMed search. MEDLINE can be searched using NLM's vocabulary-based browser known as MeSH, short for Medical Subject Headings, or by author name, title word, text word, journal name, phrase, or any combination of these. The result of a search is a list of citations (including authors, title, source, and often an abstract) to journal articles. PubMed also searches MEDLINE "in-process" citations that are added daily, as well as some citations that arrive electronically directly from publishers.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
10801 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20852
Voice: (301) 897-5700
Toll-free Voice: (800) 638-8255
TTY: (301) 897-0157
Fax: (301) 571-0457
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